Install

Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Fishing Trip Results in Nil Except Nipped Rear

To Our Readers

Has something you've read here startled you? Are you angry, excited, puzzled or pleased? Do you have ideas to improve our coverage?
Then please write to us.
All we ask is that you include your full name, the name of the city from which you are writing and a contact telephone number in case we need to get in touch.
We look forward to hearing from you.

Email the Opinion Page Editor



Last summer, some friends drove out to visit us at the dacha. While our wives got to work marinating the mutton for our traditional summer shashlyk, the men set off for the nearby Pakhra River. After a swim, we stretched out on the bank to soak up some sunshine. I noticed an old fellow in a baseball hat fishing nearby. Now I'm no fisherman, but I do love to listen to their stories.

His name was Lyonya Petrov, a career radio operator in the navy and now, like me, a pensioner. His story went something like this.

Back when he was a young man, his wife Olga got an itch to visit the Baltic Sea coast. They were warned that it wasn't safe to make the drive alone, so they recruited Lyonya's shipmate Ilya Anisimov to go with them. Ilya loved the Baltics, and he knew them well. One of Ilya's passions was fishing, and he agreed to tag along on one condition: that Lyonya go eel fishing with him.

The preparations were far more complicated than Lyonya had expected. They drove all over, searching for the perfect place to fish. Selecting the right bait was no simple matter, either. The locals said that the eels went for a kind of expensive sausage that was only for sale in special stores for higher-ups in the party.

Ilya somehow got around this obstacle, and finally the big day arrived. They spent a long time arranging their gear by the seaside. The last step was to bait the hooks and get fishing. But at this point they realized that they'd left the bait in the car. As the second-string fisherman, Lyonya was sent for the bait. He scoured the car but came up empty-handed. Finally, he asked Olga for help.

"Where's the bait?" he asked her. She said nothing, but her eyes shone with fright. When Lyonya had nearly lost his head, Olga owned up. "I didn't know it was bait," she said. "I ate the lot. It never occurred to me."

The whole trip fell apart. Ilya left immediately. Lyonya and Olga stuck around for a while, and Lyonya was determined to get his hands on some damned eels. Finally, he found some fishermen who sold him a few kilos, already smoked and ready to eat.

On the way back to the hotel, Lyonya got in and out of the car several times, and at some point he managed to put the eels, wrapped up in newspaper, on his seat. He only realized what had happened when he felt the fresh eel juices seeping through the seat of his pants.

Back at the hotel, a pack of hungry dogs was on hand to greet him. The more lively among them began nipping at his eel-soaked backside. He had no choice but to throw them what was left of the eels and forget about the whole thing. The dogs greeted his decision with enthusiasm.

"To this day I still haven't tasted eel," he said. "I guess it just wasn't meant to be."

Vladislav Schnitzer is a pensioner and journalist living in Moscow.